This is the centerpiece that is going in the middle of my table for Thanksgiving. It is really quite easy to make, doesn’t take a lot of time and other than the glue sticks, is practically free with upcycled materials and help from mother nature!
Gather pine cones, acorns, seeds, nuts, anything organic. Have the kids help. If you are lucky, like I was, you will find a stump where Mr. Squirrel dispatched a couple of pine cones looking for the nuts! It’s so much easier that way. Otherwise, find a few large pine cones and snip off the scales with heavy duty scissors, or rip them off with pliers.
The other parts to this project are a base and a candle holder. For the base, I used the round cardboard that comes under one of those we-make-it-you-bake-it kind of pizzas. You can make the base any shape you want, but circles, ovals and rectangles are easiest. You can also use wood or even posterboard, though the posterboard might be a bit floppy. The bigger candle holder is simply a washed tin can that used to hold chicken breast meat. This size holds those jars with candles in them. You can see in the picture that you can also use a tuna can, which holds a pillar candle. Caution: never leave a burning candle unattended – especially around these flammable items!
The first thing to do is glue a rim of the pinecone scales around the top of the can. You can glue them next to each other or overlapping, which ever you choose. The scales I am using came from a Ponderosa Pine. Some call it Yellow Pine. I have also used Sugar Pine before. Make sure you glue the scales at least 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the top of the can. Then, after finding center of your base, glue the can down.
Note: You can use white glue on this project – especially if kids are helping – it just takes a bit longer to dry. If using white glue, put a rubber band around the can, then slip each scale under the rubber band with a dollop of glue. The rubber band helps keep the scale on the can until the glue has dried.
Now you will want to place the pinecone scales all around the edge of the base. I let mine hang over about 1/2 inch so the cardboard won’t show. This is where a lazy susan would come in handy. Wish I had one! 😀
Now you glue the actual pinecones around the rim of the can. You can make them all stand up like tin soldiers, or let them tilt a bit this way and that. Sometimes they have a mind of their own, but it doesn’t matter because imperfection is beautiful… right? 😉
Finally, fill in the middle with the rest of your pinecones. Most of the pinecones I used are from a Douglas Fir tree, which I find to be the easiest to work with. No sharp spiny points to prick my fingers, but you can see a few little prickly devils in the mix. I like the variety!
Now, gather all the rest of your woodland finds. These are what you use to fill in the gaps. This is where the magic happens… when it starts to look really lovely! I wish I had some eucalyptus buttons – those are beautiful on this centerpiece project, but I just couldn’t find any this time. Incense Cedars make beautiful fleur-de-lis like things, junipers make the beautiful silvery-gray balls. Of course, there are several colors, shapes and sizes of acorns you can use – with and without caps. I have even used liquid amber balls, seed pods, walnuts, hazelnuts, clove pods and star anise before (I have made several of these). Just make sure it is “natural”. Have fun with it and keep filling in until you are satisfied with the results.
You may want to glue a piece of felt or thin cork underneath, which protects any finish below the centerpiece.
These can be saved year after year, but don’t be surprised if you find little pieces of stuff that looks like sawdust about and around the centerpiece when you get it out of the box next year. It won’t hurt anything – it’s just the remains of the sawdust from the worms in the acorns (that have long since died)! Turn the whole thing upside down and give it a few pats, or use your blowdryer to blow it off, replace any pieces that fell off, and enjoy!
Too late to make this for your Thanksgiving table? That’s okay. Just spray paint it silver or gold, or add sparkly ornaments, or glitter, or sprinkle on some fake snow. Or all of the above! Then, you will have a beautiful Christmas centerpiece!
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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